Negative? Me? Have some positivity!

02:27, Jul 25 2014

I know because I’m just an image at the top of the page to you all, some of you feel you can criticise with impunity.

But sometimes it’s nice for me to be able to look in the mirror without wondering whether Anonymous of Whanganui thinks I’m a d**k with no sense of humour.

So, in a brief attempt to appease those who suggest I’m a little bit too negative, today’s blog is going to be incessantly positive.

Unfortunately, largely due to the sheer amount of reality shows and unfunny comedies we’re served up, we’re going to have to take a little jump back into the past.

I think most attempts to rank television shows are somewhat futile - tastes change, shows which were groundbreaking in their day become dated and, at the end of the day, it’s just someone’s opinion.

So I’m not going to claim the show I’m going to write about is the greatest ever - merely at this time and place I consider it the finest show I’ve watched.


And the winner of this unnecessary accolade? The Office - the UK version of course - a masterpiece written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant that is now 13 years old.

Every time I happen upon a repeat on satellite television, or every time I open my DVD cupboard, I invariably end up watching more than one episode.

Sure, the mockumentary format was done before and has been done since, but on television The Office in unsurpassable (Spinal Tap wins my imaginary ‘Best Big Screen Mockumentary’ award).

Ricky Gervais’ creation, David Brent, will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest characters of all time in modern culture.

Equal parts horrifying and cringeworthy, Brent was at heart a guy who just wanted to be loved.

After 13 episodes of seeing one of the most egotistical idiots that ever walked the streets of Slough, he redeemed himself at the last second.

He connected with a woman by being the real Brent - and he finally plucked up the courage to tell his good mate Finchy what he really thought of his incessant bullying.

But the genius of The Office didn’t stop, or even start, with Brent.

The pièce de résistance was the love-affair of Dawn and Tim, played beautifully by Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman.

Every time you thought they were destined to be together something happened. When Dawn headed off to the US with fiancé Lee it was the end of a love affair.

And the Christmas specials seemed like they weren’t going to resolve it. Dawn left with Lee again, closing the door on Tim for the last time.

But, as cliched as it was, Dawn opening Tim’s present and allowing her a glimpse of what life would be with someone who supported her, and her subsequent appearance back at the party was stunning.

I cried watching it for the first time and I have tears in my eyes thinking about it now.

(NSFW language)

Yep, I just watched that again - for easily the 100th time - and cried. The scene is perfect - from Brent trying to (badly) explain a riddle to Gareth, Tim looking bored and then  Dawn coming in the back, the ‘camera crew’ seeing her and focussing on her.

Then the kiss. Awkward at first. And then Gareth’s interruption and confirmation her engagement is off. All while Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ plays in the background. One more kiss and then they’re off as Brent cracks a little smile in the foreground. Amazing.

In my opinion it’s the single greatest scene I’ve ever watched on television. The Office may not be perfect but that scene is. Every time I watch it.

Interestingly, as much as I think the Christmas specials are a brilliant ending to the show they’re not the best episodes of the show.

That goes to ‘The Quiz’, the third episode of the first season. If you haven’t seen Gareth’s quiz-mastering, Brent’s stupidity, Finchy’s arrogance, Dawn and Tim’s playfulness and - of course - the attempt to throw a shoe over a building, see it out now.

And the greatest line? Delivered by the always excellent Mackenzie Crook as Gareth: “Oh yeah, they're sad little men. He's thrown a kettle over a pub. What have you ever done?”

That tells you everything you need to know!

Finally I want to put in a special word for the US version of The Office.

There is a lot of snobbery around this show, primarily because it’s a remake and the first season used the UK scripts. It wasn’t good.

But when it hit its straps - from the third season up to when Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott left - it was imperious.

The love affair at the heart of show was equally brilliant in the US version with John Kraskinski as Jim and Jenna Fischer as Pam simply stunning.

The proposal, told via distant camera and no audio across a street at a petrol station was simply divine.

And Rainn Wilson’s Dwight was as every bit as annoying, yet oddly loveable, as Gareth.

I consider the US version of The Office to be one of the finest comedies ever made - if they had only ended it two seasons before they did it would have had a chance of unseating the UK version at the top of my charts.

So there you go - you got me crying with joy. What more do you want?

While you think about that tell me what you consider the best show you’ve ever seen…